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Nicotine and Tobacco Research Team (NTRT)

Revised September 2017

The Nicotine and Tobacco Research Team (NTRT) serves as a central source of information and acts as a focus for optimizing NIDA’s efforts in this area.  At NIDA, the nicotine and tobacco research portfolio is distributed throughout the Institute in each Division.  This distribution ensures that the different types of nicotine and tobacco research are co-localized with similar research on other drugs of abuse.  The NTRT serves to coordinate the activities and research interests of the distributed staff who have a priority in overseeing nicotine and tobacco research.  Through the sharing of information, we hope to identify opportunities that promote NIDA’s research in reducing the disease, disability and death caused by addiction to nicotine and tobacco.

The Core Group of NTRT Program Staff have the majority of the nicotine and tobacco portfolio and serve as a resource to investigators for inquiries regarding research in this area at NIDA. They represent a cross section of expertise such as pre-clinical, clinical, drug development, behavior, treatment, and epidemiology.

Goals of the NTRT include:

  • Inviting speakers to NIDA for presentations on topics related to nicotine and tobacco
  • Promoting interactions with other NIH ICs and partner DHHS agencies
  • Regularly distributing to NTRT members Nicotine Items, highlights of recent publications related to nicotine and tobacco distributed via email.

Membership of the NTRT is open to all NIDA extramural and intramural staff.  If you would like to join and/or receive Nicotine Items, please contact Phylicia Porter, phylicia.porter@nih.gov.

For questions about the Nicotine and Tobacco Research Team, please contact either of the co-chairs, Mary Kautz, kautzm@nida.nih.gov, or Kevin Walton, kevin.walton@nih.gov.  

Core Membership

Investigators considering to apply for NIDA research grants pertaining to nicotine and tobacco are encouraged to contact the relevant Program Staff to discuss their proposal in relation to NIDA research priorities.  You can also review the NIDA strategic plan, which discusses the Institute's research priorities.

Name Program Staff Title Branch Division Areas of Expertise

Will Aklin
Aklin, Will

Program Officer Clinical Research Grants Branch Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences Behavioral treatments targeting specific neurobehavioral processes (e.g., impulsivity, risk-taking propensity, decision-making), examination of theory-derived treatment targets and mechanisms of behavior change, adherence, neuromodulation, studies that integrate behavioral/pharmacological and technology-based treatment.

Beth Babecki
Babecki, Beth

Training Coordinator Office of the DNB Director Division of Neuroscience and Behavior Training Coordinator, mentor to applicants and grantees for: institutional (T32 grants) and individual training grants (F30, F31 and F32 grants), Career Development (K-type) and Research Education grants (R25). Research area interests: nicotine and tobacco basic and clinical research with focus on chemistry, genetics, behavior and functional neuroscience.

Mary Kautz
Kautz, Mary

Branch Chief (Acting)  Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Branch Division of Neuroscience and Behavior Clinical and pre-clinical studies in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience; nicotine dependence, cue-reactivity, craving, reinforcement, and withdrawal; dual cigarette and smokeless tobacco use; reduced/very low nicotine products, translational neuropsychopharmacology of nicotine addiction, NIDA Liaison to NIH/FDA Tobacco Regulatory Science Program

Heather Kimmel
Kimmel, Heather

Program Officer Epidemiology Research Branch Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research Epidemiology of tobacco use, comorbidity with psychiatric disorders, polysubstance use, genetic and environmental risk factors, marketing, point-of-sale, social media, and risk perceptions.
Kline, Rik Medicinal Chemist Chemistry and Pharmaceutics Branch Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences Director of the NIDA Drug Supply Program (where researchers can request/receive DEA controlled and non-controlled substances including low nicotine cigarettes); therapeutic development for treatment of drug abuse; oversees contract efforts aimed at creating cGMP active pharmaceutical ingredients for human clinical trials.

Samia Noursi
Noursi, Samia

Program Officer and Acting Deputy Branch Chief Services Research Branch Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research Improving the quality of services for populations with tobacco use, including women, minorities and other vulnerable groups. Focus on sex/gender differences; drug treatment court, and HIV

Jonathan Pollock
Pollock, Jonathan

Branch Chief Genetics, Epigenetics, and Developmental Neuroscience Branch Division of Neuroscience and Behavior Genetics of substance use disorder, genetics and eigenetics of nicotine dependence, pharmacogenomics of smoking cessation.

Phylicia Porter
Porter, Phylicia

Scientific Program Analyst  Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Branch Division of Neuroscience and Behavior Public health policy & tobacco control; program coordination for the NIDA tobacco regulatory science program; point of contact for the Nicotine Research Cigarette in the NIDA Drug Supply Program.

Roger Sorensen
Sorenson, Roger

Branch Chief Integrative Neuroscience Branch Division of Neuroscience and Behavior Neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, and neural circuit communication underlying nicotine dependence and withdrawal.

Kevin Walton
Walton, Kevin

Branch Chief Clincial Research Grants Branch Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences Clinical trials evaluating new therapeutics or treatment paradigms for smoking cessation; repurposing of approved therapeutics; neuromodulatory/neurostimulatory treatments; integrated pharmacologic and behavioral therapies; co-morbid conditions; electronic cigarettes for harm reduction and nicotine cessation.

Coralee Wetherington
Wetherington, Cora Lee

Program Officer Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Branch Division of Neuroscience and Behavior Analysis of research findings by sex/gender; gonadal hormones; prenatal exposure; stress; vulnerability and protective factors; application of concepts and methodology from learning and conditioning science; translation from preclinical to human laboratory studies;  bi-directional translation between human laboratory to treatment.

This page was last updated September 2017